After caring for Tai in Patzcuaro, we slid on down the lake to Erongaricuaro, about a half hour away, as we’ve done several times before. Dogs Lucy, Xochi and Rigo, and cats Cosmos and Rocky, remembered us instantly. Although, cats being cats, they simply yawned and went back to their naps. The dogs, on the other hand, went berserk, especially when they remembered that we’re enthusiastic playmates.
Lucy the Lab, in particular, loves to play ball, but is obsessive. At all times she must be either 1) chasing it, 2) chewing it, or 3) sleeping with it. It’s safe to say it’s her life. Well, maybe second to eating, and the dish she eats out of. She loves mealtimes so much she’s almost chewed through her bowl. It’s become quite the work of art.
Xochi will join in the game of ball-throwing and catching, half-heartedly, only because she thinks it’s the thing to do. If her sister insists it’s the world’s coolest game, it must be. Sometimes Xochi seems unsure of herself as a species, and is constantly on alert for cues. So she’ll follow suit in activities like walks or ball-chasing. But most of the time she just goes through the motions. Sure, she’ll chase it, but half-way to retrieving it she finds a blade of grass much more fascinating. Sometimes — OK, rarely — she’ll get to the ball first, but instead of following Lucy’s lead and bringing it back to be thrown, she’ll stand there and chew on it, noisily, much to Lucy’s extreme frustration. Other times, just to drive her even nuttier, Xochi will lay down and rest her chin on the ball, with a look that asks, “What?”. Even though they’re roughly the same size (although Xochi’s long, graceful, ballerina legs put her slightly taller), Lucy will not attempt to extricate the ball from her. Instead, she’ll stand there, body tense and still as a sculpture, eyes fixated on the bright blue orb, waiting for just the slightest shift in Xochi’s body or attention, then she’ll zoom in and snatch it. Once in possession of her prize, she’ll prance away in glee, the universe unfolding as it should.
Rigo is not much of a ball guy. Well, unless they’re his own. Oh, wait, he doesn’t have any, he’s been neutered. Although you’d never know it based on his continued, tortured auto-eroticism. Yep, the poor guy still struggles with sudden, uncontrolled arousal. And now that he’s roomies with two beautiful girls, it’s, um, harder than ever to contain his feelings. Frustrated, he’ll often trot over to the wall, stand there and wait in vain for the invisible rodent that also taunts and torments him.
Cosmos has no doubts about his origin; he still thinks he’s a dog. He prefers hanging with the canines, even sleeping on their beds, whether they’re in them or not, much to their chagrin. He’s not quite the scrappy hunter of his younger years, managing to snag and present to us only one small bat our entire stay. We take pains to reassure him that’s quite alright.
Rocky is still frail and squeaky, but soldiering on in her own loner life, both belying and affirming her stoic moniker.
Eronga is the same: an oddly raucous town for its small size. Neighbourhood dogs bark through the night, roosters crow through the day, and fight club starts every night around 9, and continues to about midnight. At least that’s what I swear it is. How else to describe what sounds like bodies being hurled against metal walls, to a backdrop of hoots and hollers? It’s probably just a friendly game of pick-up basketball, but fight club fits with the edginess of the place, so that’s what I’m sticking with.
In the quiet afternoons, when the town (and the pets) slumber, we sit on the expansive lawn amid this sprawling garden of endless plant, flower and tree variety, including pomegranate, olive, tangerine, lemon, lime, cactus, pine and ash. We gaze out over the lake, to the island of Janitzio in the distance, breathe in the fresh, cool mountain air, and agree sometimes life’s greatest pleasures are the simplest. Like a rubber ball and a plastic dish.